Life is what you make it

Ah, the holidays.

Always crazy.

This year we hosted for the Lovely Leann’s family. It was a small gathering about 12 which is both manageable and a lot of fun. There was turkey, of course, as well as lots of yummy sides and some good wine. It was a success, despite me being sick.

Head cold. Ick. Lots of handwashing and lots of coffee to keep me going!

But what really made it crazy was the unplanned 4 hour (each way) drive down to Iowa to see my abruptly hospitalized grandmother.

My grandmother was born in 1918. She married my grandfather in the thirty’s and the two of them left their Illinois family behind and moved to a farm in the middle of Iowa. They had no electricity, no running water, and farmed with horses. The house they rented and was an old, sand insulated homestead that sat alongside a railroad tracks. General Custer rode by that house on his way out to South Dakota for the battle at the Little Bighorn.

My grandmother and grandfather had three children, a girl, and two boys, including my father. Some of my earliest memories include going to the farm, riding on my grandfather’s three row combine, and playing with my grandmother’s jewelry collection.

They retired and built a house in town when I was just a boy. Or rather, I should say my grandfather built the house. He was an amazing carpenter. He died about 15 years ago and my grandmother lived in that house for a few years before moving to assisted living, and eventually the nursing home. When I got the call that her congestive heart failure was being complicated by pneumonia and several other issues I dropped everything, left Leann to work on Thanksgiving preparations, and drove down with my brother to see my grandma.

It was a very bizarre experience. My grandma was always a fighter, a slightly vain, image conscious woman who who could cuss with as much eloquence as she could bake a holiday feast.

She looked small when I saw her. There was a tube in her nose, her hair was tangled with neglect, and her head hung, as if overcome by the weight of all those years. Her body was done even if her mind was as sharp as ever.

I watched her make the decision to move to Hospice, to go there to die, and afterwards, we talked for a while. I showed her some pictures on my phone and told her about my upcoming vacation to New York, but it was a strange, strange experience. For both of us, I think. After all, what is the point of talking when someone has lost the will to live?
But my grandma had said something to the Hospice representative that gave me hope. They were speaking of all the years she had spent without my grandfather and she said, “Life is what you make it.”

Life is what you make it.

Those are strong words, spoken by a strong woman. It doesn’t matter if you are a struggling writer, a newlywed living on the homestead without water or electricity, or an old woman surrounded by people who keep dying before you do.

Life is what you make it.


Indie Publishing: Editors, why you hide?

** Updated November 16, 2012 **

Come with me on a little journey, if you please

Picture an eager (and devilishly handsome) future Indie Author (EdhFIA for short) hammering away on the final edit of his first novel. EdhFIA is hungry, optimistic, and determined to ignore everyone who says Indie Publishing is a mistake.

EdhFIA is gonna finish his book, he’s gonna find an editor, and together they are gonna show the naysayers how wrong they were.

Finally, after months of hard work, sacrifice, and the occasional beer, EdhFIA sets out with his finished manuscript in hand. It’s time to find the perfect editor.

EdhFIA googles “editor.”

*mind blown*

There are lots. LOTS. But EdhFIA is no internet noob. EdhFIA knows that any shmuck can call themselves an editor.  (They can also call themselves a 19 year old cheerleader, but that’s a different blog.)

*terrible realization*

It could take months to find the good editors amongst all that noise.

Enter: The Alliance of Independent Authors and Publishers Marketplace

EdhFIA has done his research. He knows there are organizations out there that were created to support both Indie Authors and the Publishing Community at large.

So EdhFIA joins the Alliance of Independent Authors and goes to the section where editors (and others) advertise their services.

*mind blown*

There’s only a few. So very, very few.

He checks Publishers Marketplace. Same thing.

*terrible realization*

Most editors are not advertising their services.

Hollywood Ending

You’ll be happy to know that I, EdhFIA, found an editor.

** Update **

As it turns out, Googling “Professional Editor” is far more useful that Googling “Editor.” Who knew? Just about everyone else, but not me. 

Furthermore, this discovery completely dismantles every assumption and argument I originally made in the rest of this blog. Hence its deletion.

Embarrassing? Yes, but that’s ok. You can’t learn how to walk without falling.

Thanks to Rebecca Lang for pointing out my sillyness on the ALLi Facebook group. 

Making it Happen: I Have an Editor!

Earlier this week I finalized an arrangement with Brett Hardman, Freelance Editor as well as Editor for the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

Together, we shall conquer the universe!

Or maybe just one small part of it.


What sealed the deal?

Brett and I hit it off from the start. She was super professional, which I appreciated, and very tolerant of my many newbie questions. The best part? She “gets” my book.

For example:

  • She saw the influence of Marion Zimmer Bradley on my book. Holy crap! No one has ever said that to me before and it’s so true! The Mists of Avalon is, in genealogical terms (and let me beg Ms Bradley’s forgiveness, may she rest in peace), To Kill the Goddess’ not too distant ancestor.
  • Brett immediately honed in on Point of View as being an area I need to strengthen. For those who haven’t read To Kill the Goddess, TKtG is told from the point of view of six different characters. That is, while great in concept, really hard to do. An essential component of my success will be ensuring that my writing draws the reader in and makes them invest in each character.

How did I find Brett?

I found her through the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), which is an amazing resource for Indie Authors. I am also a proud member.

A few other random notes

Brett lives “across the pond.” In Wiltshire, UK. Wiltshire is an awesome name. Even more awesome? Royal Wootton Bassett. I think Frodo has cousins there.

Was I was initially concerned about having an editor 5-6 timezones away? Yes, but it’s been working out well so far. We have a fairly good communication window during the morning, which is mid-late afternoon for her, and while most of our communication will be via email, she is open to using Google + or Skype if we need some face time.

Craziness ensues!

I know how to write, but I don’t know how to do all this other stuff on the publishing end. There’s so much between now and the end of the road, and the cold reality is that the Indie Author doesn’t have many companions to keep him/her company along the way. Thank goodness for ALLi.

There’s only one thing I can say for certain: it’s gonna be an adventure!

Star Wars: Let’s Talk Memories!

I must have felt a disturbance in the force.

Can you believe it?  It was just a few weeks ago that I blogged Fallen Jedi, a silly old short story of mine.

Posting Fallen Jedi was bittersweet. It was, in many ways, closure to a life-long love that started 32 years ago, in a small town Iowa theater.

And now – boom! – Darth Disney is breathing new life into that venerable franchise’s rotting husk.

You’re welcome.

It would be easy to go on about how Lucas has already killed the franchise, which he kinda has, but that’s well trod issue.  Star Wars is coming back, whether we want it to or not, so we might as well get ready? Right?

So let’s talk about how we used to love Star Wars.

I want to hear your favorite Star Wars memories!

I’ll start.

#1 The Theater

I was six. I don’t remember seeing trailers on TV, not like I do for Empire Strikes Back, but somehow, I knew I had to see this movie. It was the advertisement in the theater section of the local paper that really got my blood boiling. Yah, that one right there. I loved it so much I clipped it out and put it on my bulletin board. I wanted to go so bad but my parents wouldn’t take me.

But then, it happened. Some cousins were visiting and one of them, who was old enough to drive, announced that he was bored and was going to see Star Wars. I still don’t know how it happened (although I know an obnoxious amount of begging was involved) but within the hour I was sitting there in the theater and the curtains were drawing back and [fanfare].

#2 Toys-R-Us Midnight Madness

It was 1999. The Phantom Menace was weeks away and we were all full giddy optimism and excitement. Star Wars was new all over again and this time I HAD MONEY! No more meticulously devouring the JCPenny catalog for Christmas lists, I was going to buy whatever I wanted!

So there I was, standing in the cold strobe light painted Toys-R-Us parking lot, just me, the Lovely Leann, and about 300 kindred souls. The clock ticked on. Anticipation built.

The line started to move!

There was jostling, a little shoving, but no trampling (hey, we’re geeks, not animals). I crossed the threshold, inched past wide-eyed employees, and [angelic music/geekgasm] THERE WERE GIANT WIRE CRATES FILLED WITH STAR WARS FIGURES!

Pure. Awesome.

What’s your favorite Star Wars memory?